Living together after 50: Are you ignoring the biggest financial risks?

WASHINGTON — The fastest-growing age group for couples opting to live together, rather than getting married, is those over 50. Since disagreements about money are the number-one reason for divorce, we wanted to know whether cohabitating couples had discussed day-to-day money issues.

Such issues range from how they would share living expenses to more complex situations, such as who will pay for medical and care expenses if one of them develops health or cognitive issues.

Our Living Together After 50 infographic provides the eye-opening results of our survey and tells a more complete story of the most critical financial risks many couples who live together are exposed to.

The results of the survey on financial questions for couples living together after age 50. (Courtesy Bridgewater Wealth)

In our Living Together After 50 Financial Quiz, we asked the following six questions:

  1. Do you know how your income from pensions, alimony or Social Security might be impacted if you live together?
  2. Are you in agreement about how you will share your basic living expenses, such as mortgage or rent, food and utilities, and discretionary spending, such as travel or dining out?
  3. Do you have a plan for care and an agreement of who will pay for it should one of you develop health or cognitive issues?
  4. Have you shared your credit scores with each other?
  5. Have you discussed what happens if one of you loses your job?
  6. Have you agreed on who gets what if you split up?

Of the 223 respondents, 69 percent were female, 31 percent male. More than 75 percent of respondents were between the ages of 51 and 70. In almost all instances, women answered “no” more often than men.

Since health care, including long-term care costs in retirement, could exceed $250,000 per person for someone retiring at age 65 this year, many couples are risking their lifestyle in retirement by ignoring this issue.

If you are cohabitating with and aging alongside your significant other, talk about and create a plan for the unexpected financial issues that could deplete your individual wealth. It’s easier to share potential risks through insurance while you are younger and healthier or protect your personal assets with a “no nup” agreement.

To take our Living Together After 50 Financial Quiz or read more about our solutions to these common risks, we invite you to read Talk About Finances Before Living Together After 50.

Dawn Doebler is a senior wealth adviser at Bridgewater Wealth, in Bethesda, Maryland, and co-founder of Her Wealth.

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